After England was in lockdown for about three months, non-essential retailers were allowed to open on Monday. Some 400 shoppers lined up at Nike’s central London Oxford Circus flagship. Security guards limited the number of people allowed to enter to around 10 at a time.
However, although, U.K. government issued directives dictating social distancing of two meters between individuals, there appeared to be little regard for the rules amidst the excitement.
There were similar lines outside the stores of other Oxford Street and Regent Street retailers, including Sports Direct, Apple, Zara, John Lewis and Primark — with some customers reportedly waiting overnight to be first through the doors. Stores such as TK Maxx, Uniqlo and Gap remained closed — with plans to reopen over the next few days.
The scenes on Oxford Street marked a contrast to luxury shopping destination Sloane Street, where shoppers exercised more decorum. Retailers there reopened with incentives including private personal chauffeurs, curbside collection with contactless payment and private appointments both inside and outside regular opening hours.
This came in addition to home delivery within London and even special consignment options where a curated edit of products can be delivered — and customers charged only for the items they opt to keep.
According to Hugh Seaborn, CEO of majority landlord Cadogan, “the spacious stores, wide pavements, unhurried environment and ample green space surrounding Sloane Street are naturally conducive to social distancing and safe shopping.
“Public safety is our absolute priority and we have been working actively with the retailers to ensure that the luxury shopping environment and experience is reassuringly safe and uncompromised,” he added.
Elsewhere Kurt Geiger opened 24 out of its 57 stores on Monday. The brand announced that sales were up 50% compared to the same day last year at its London Westfield and Covent Garden stores.
As reported, Kurt Geiger is donating all store profits for the first month opening to the British National Health Service. The goal is to donate around $1.25 million to the NHS by the end of the year.
“Seeing customers back in stores today has been encouraging. Obviously today was always going to be different to a normal trading day, but to see strong trading, particularly in Covent Garden and Westfield, is promising,” said CEO Neil Clifford in a statement.
He added that the brand has also donated over $630,000 worth of product to NHS and frontline workers in the last month via gifting and a 50% discount card.
The brand is also selling charity tote bags, masks and t-shirts — and 100% of profits are being donated to the NHS on an ongoing basis. “Consumers are now shopping with a conscience,” Clifford said. “We all need to be more aware of making a positive impact in all we do. Likewise, fashion needs to be more sustainable and less changeable which will result in fewer but more enduring collections.”
According to figures collected by Springboard which measures consumer traffic on behalf of retailers, England’s high streets saw an increase in footfall of 51.7% this week in comparison to last week. However, the year-on-year decline still stands at 41.2%.